Portsmouth sea defences targeted in Anglo-Dutch design contest

Above: rocks placed on the seafront beside The Pyramids Centre after sea defences crumbled in December 2015

Above: rocks placed on the seafront beside The Pyramids Centre after sea defences crumbled in December 2015

Community interest company Project Compass, Dutch architecture network Architectuur Lokaal, and the University of Portsmouth School of Architecture are collectively promoting a design research competition to help reinforce Portsmouth’s coastal defences, and future-proof them against climate changed-induced rises in sea levels.

The competition is a response to proposals for more enlightened and informed sea defences between Portsmouth’s open coastal spaces and the Solent, and takes on the ‘elephant cage’ structure, placing designers in competitive teams to foster and inspire ideas.

It’s also a reaction to the current sea defence proposals of a sea wall along the seafront — three metres high in some places — which has caused concerns over its damaging effects on the aesthetic appeal of the promenade, the isolation of the beach, and the general popularity of the seafront and its economy.

Those taking part in the ‘elephant cage’ contest have been invited to participate in workshops in Portsmouth from 23rd through 25th November and in The Netherlands for two days in March 2017, during which teams will devise ideas for sea defences that’ll add long-term value to Southsea seafront rather than potentially jeopardising the area’s visitor appeal.

Teams will work with architecture, engineering, and landscape architecture experts from the UK and The Netherlands, plus mentors from each country.

Master’s students from the University of Portsmouth School of Architecture will also be at the workshops to provide contextual, environmental, technical, and social expertise.

Teams will be given the opportunity to present and critique proposals before ideas are shared to stakeholders, locally and nationally.

Proposals elicited through the workshops will be presented to stakeholders and the public at the Portsmouth School of Architecture in the Eldon Building on Friday 25th November, from 5:00pm to 7:30pm. A public exhibition of all design ideas will follow later on in the project’s timeline, and the resulting work will be used to advance sea defences in other low-lying coastal cities.

Find out more about the competition on the Project Compass website »